Officer Thief?/West Seattle/Thurs Sept 7/Time Unknown: Officer Cruz reports: "Upon arrival, I contacted complainant. He stated that just northeast of where the telephone pole was cut, he also discovered two damaged transformers that the suspect(s) (unknown if it's the same that cut the pole) gutted out for copper wires. The riser that was attached to the pole was cut and the copper wires that go from the ground to the transformer were also cut. The incident happened inside Pigeon Point Park just south of Cooper Elementary School.

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"Complainant stated that there was a female witness that was walking her dog inside the park. She heard the chainsaw and saw a male approximately late 20s to early 30s driving an older pickup truck. She remembered the license plate and described it as an older truck, brown, black primer, and a red engine hood. He stated that the female witness went to the Southwest Precinct to report it.

"Officer Paul F. Edwards remembered the female witness coming into the precinct on Labor Day. She told him that she just wanted us to know what she saw and also wanted to be anonymous.

"I called King County dispatchers to have a deputy drive by the R/O's [registered owner's] address and see if the pickup truck was there. Deputy Smith called me back on my cell phone and told me that the pickup truck was at the R/O's address and it appeared to match the description. He couldn't see if there were any items (such as copper wires or transformers) in the bed of the truck. The R/O lives in [Burien].

"At this time I haven't located the female witness.

"[The list of what was stolen]: 2 transformers each approx. 300 pounds and gutted for the copper wire, 1 copper riser from the riser approx. 240 feet. Estimated value: $10,000."

Under the Docks/West Seattle/Wed Sept 13/3:55 pm: Officer Lim reports: "Officers announced 'Seattle Police!' and all three suspects fled on foot, northbound under the docks. After a brief foot pursuit, all three suspects were apprehended and taken into custody. Officers then conducted a search underneath the dock area where the suspects were observed and located stolen property (industrial cables/copper) from Tilbury Cement. The suspects had set up an operation underneath the docks and were pulling/stripping copper from the power cables. Suspects were booked into KCJ for investigation of burglary."

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As dusk gathers on September 14, I'm in a cab manned by an Ethiopian. On the radio is an NPR news report about the recent surge of public metal thefts in America. The Ethiopian and I laugh; Americans are finally catching up with the Third World. This kind of theft was so common in Zimbabwe that it ruined the local phone service. If you had an emergency and needed to call an ambulance, you didn't call the hospital directly; you called someone in England—because that connection was made via satellite, rather than the ground—and had the person in England call the hospital. If you dialed the hospital locally, your injured or sick friend/relative would soon be like the tone at the end of the line—dead.

charles@thestranger.com